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The Irish referendum on whether or not to liberalise its abortion laws will give voters the first opportunity in 35 years to repeal a constitutional amendment that has long divided the once deeply Catholic nation.

The move is a long time coming for some as Facebook has been criticised for its impact on the U.S. presidential election in 2016, and there have been questions raised about it influence over the UK's Brexit vote.

Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will be asked on May 25 whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment of Ireland's Constitution, a provision that makes abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances.

FACEBOOK has banned ads regarding Ireland's upcoming abortion referendum that are produced by foreign advertisers.

The company said they will no longer allow the advertising from outside Ireland "as part of our efforts to help protect the integrity of elections and referendums from undue influence".

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Facebook has moved to block foreign advertisements relating to the upcoming Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment. "All their announcements seem created to stave off regulation, and for me it boils down to do we allow them to self-regulate, or do we regulate ourselves".

You are not signed in as a Premium user; we rely on Premium users to support our news reporting. Its campaign Co-Director Ailbhe Smyth said: "We view this as a clear recognition by Facebook that external forces with vast resources can have disproportionate yet impactful influence in political campaigns".

Online advertising is not regulated for under Ireland's electoral laws. But the legislation does not cover money spent directly on digital advertising, a loophole that observers say has been exploited by groups overseas wishing to influence the vote. Two weeks ago Liz Carolan, its founder, said her group "had picked up 144 different pages paying for ads at one point in time over the last few months".

U2's backing prompted a backlash from hundreds of pro-life supporters who blasted the band for its Christian roots, including Chris Stefanick, who said, "You've turned your back on your Irish Catholic people fighting for a culture of life and human dignity at the most fundamental level".

The party is also calling on Google to introduce similar restrictions on its YouTube platform. However, foreigners were until Tuesday able to purchase Facebook ads directly targeting Irish voters.


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